Grandparents’ child contact rights after family separation

Often when there is an acrimonious separation, the parents’ sole focus is what arrangements should be put in place for the child to spend time with either parent, leaving those who previously played a key role in the child’s life forgotten. With childcare proving costly and with the ever increasing demands of working to support your family, grandparents are increasingly relied upon to provide much needed childcare. In addition, there are now more multi-generational households than ever, with many children accustomed to seeing their grandparents on a daily basis.

Not only is the support of grandparents useful in terms of ensuring that we can meet the demands of daily life, but it has a number of benefits for children. Research has shown that children who are emotionally close to their grandparents are less likely develop depression as adults and will also have a better understanding of their identity. There are also reported health benefits for grandparents, with studies concluding that caring for grandchildren one day a week seemingly reduces the risk of the onset of Alzheimer’s. Given all of these benefits for both children and grandparents alike, where do grandparent’s stand if they find themselves suddenly estranged from their grandchildren?

If all attempts at mediation have proven futile it falls to grandparents to consider making an application to the court; such applications are governed by the Children Act 1989 and the Children and Families Act 2014. Other than in a very restricted set of circumstances, a grandparent is likely to need to ask the court for permission to make an application for a Child Arrangements Order to spend time with the children. In considering the grandparents’ application, the court must consider a set of factors as set out in section 10(9) of the Children Act, namely:

  • the nature of the proposed application for the section 8 order;
  • the applicant’s connection with the child; and
  • any risk there might be of that proposed application disrupting the child’s life to such an extent that he would be harmed by it.

If the court grants permission for a grandparent to have contact, the best outcome would be for family members to agree on child arrangements following that. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court may need to make an order if it is in the children’s best interests to do so.

In some cases, grandparents may be the main carers for children but may not have orders in place that protect both theirs and the children’s position. There are a number of orders that the court can make to ensure stability for children and to reflect the reality of their day-to-day arrangements. Here at QualitySolicitors Davisons, we have a team of family experts who can advise you as to the most appropriate way forward to suit your individual circumstances. We can assist you in negotiating a settlement for child contact rights or offer you support, advice and representation throughout court proceedings.

To get in touch with our family law team, contact 0121 514 7325.

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